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  • Author: Laura J. Claxton x
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Amanda J. Arnold and Laura J. Claxton

If adults are carrying an object and start to experience a loss of balance, they frequently maintain hold of that object instead of dropping it. In these loss-of-balance situations, adults tend to maintain hold of the object, instead of freeing both hands to aid in balance recovery. The current study investigated the ontogeny of this behavior by examining if infants also maintain hold of objects when experiencing a fall. Sixteen newly standing infants were video-recorded while standing and holding a toy and standing while not holding a toy. Similar to adults, when infants experienced a loss of balance, they did not drop held objects. However, maintaining hold of objects only partially interfered with the use of upper-limb protective strategies while falling. These results suggest that the tendency to maintain hold of an object while falling is present early in development and with little independent standing experience.

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James R. Chagdes, Joshua J. Liddy, Amanda J. Arnold, Laura J. Claxton and Jeffrey M. Haddad

Portable force-measurement technologies are becoming increasingly popular tools to examine the maturation of postural motor milestones, such as sitting and standing, in infants. These convenient, low-cost devices provide numerous opportunities to characterize postural development outside of the laboratory. However, it is important to understand the unique challenges and technical limitations associated with collecting center of pressure (CoP) data using portable force-measurement technologies in infant populations. This study uses a mathematical model to examine issues that emerge when using portable force-measurement technologies to collect sitting and standing postural data in infants. The results of our mathematical simulations demonstrate that the CoP errors from portable force-measurement technologies depend on the posture examined (e.g., sitting vs. standing), the anthropometrics of the person (e.g., height and weight), the frequency of body sway, and the experimental setup (e.g., an additional support surface being placed on top of the device). Recommendations are provided for developmental researchers interested in adopting these technologies in infant populations.

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Jeffrey M. Haddad, Laura J. Claxton, Dawn K. Melzer, Joseph Hamill and Richard E. A. van Emmerik

Posture becomes integrated with other goal-directed behaviors early in infancy and continues to develop into the second decade of life. However, the developmental time course over which posture is stabilized relative to the base of support during a dynamic manual precision task has not been examined. Postural-manual integration was assessed in 7-year-olds, 10-year-olds, and adults using a postural-manual task in which task precision (target fitting size) and postural difficulty (reaching distance to a target) were manipulated. The main dependent variable was postural time-to-contact (TtC). Results indicated systematic age effects in which TtC was shortest in the 7-year-olds, increased in the 10-year-olds, and was longest in the adults. Across all age levels, TtC was longer when performing a precision ft compared with a nonprecision ft and when fitting at a near target compared with fitting at a far target. Finally, TtC increased over the course of the manual fitting task, suggesting that posture became increasingly stable as the hand approached the opening. The ability to modulate postural TtC during the course of the fitting trial was most pronounced in adults as compared with both groups of children. These results suggest that even by 10-years of age, children are not yet able to fully integrate postural movements with goal directed manual tasks at adult-like levels.